December 7th, 2010

surprise? news?

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/12/realtime/

I'm still trying to understand this article.

This guy did an FOIA request on the Justice Department on "Hotwatches".

http://paranoia.dubfire.net/2010/12/dojs-hotwatch-real-time-surveillance-of.html

It's a nice piece of research, showing that law enforcement routinely gets real time information from a variety of sources of financial transactions ("calling cards, credit cards, rental cars and airline reservations, as well as retail shopping clubs"), and they are apparently doing this not using a traditional go-to-the-judge-and-get-a-search-warrant process.

It _is_ useful to know this is happening, and interesting to learn that the justice department isn't coughing up this kind of detail readily, only when requested under FOIA. It's nice work by a blogger, as well.

The problem I'm having here is a little different. _This is a standard plot device on cop shows on TV._ So how do we all "know" it is happening and simultaneously not "know" it is happening? Perhaps everyone was assuming that this particular plot device was as fictitious as any number of other standard plot devices on cop shows on TV (say, facial recognition software on security camera images actually working).

are you impressed yet?

http://www.examiner.com/literature-in-lexington/ebooks-make-it-to-the-ny-times-best-sellers-lists

This is an elderly article, dating from Nov 12. I'm trying to track down something R. told me, and failing, but stumbling across all kinds of other interesting things.

"Ebooks now account for a 15% share of the book market and are anticipated to rise to 25% or higher by 2012."

I wish that were sourced; now I'm going to have to find out what that means and if it is true. (_Which_ book market?) The last time I was seeing estimates of e-book share of book market, it was closer to 6%, and a whole bunch of the punditry Was Unimpressed. And this was less than a year ago.

Hmmm.

perhaps you are impressed now?

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2010/does-ebook-growth-mask-market-share-declines/

This wasn't where he heard it, but this is what I was looking for. It's an interesting article,
in part because McQuivey asked a good question about AAP's statistics: sure, ebook sales are growing rapidly, but they track a fraction of epublishers. Is that fraction representative? Could they be growing really fast and still be losing market share?

"Cowen estimates Amazon currently having 76% of the ebook market, which would put the overall market at approximately $922 million, while the AAP/IDPF sales data is only tracking sales of $259.5 million year-to-date."

Perhaps you are impressed now?

If I were a publisher who had been having strong feelings -- positive or negative -- about electronic book sales, this would modify that reaction. And probably not in a good way. If I had been celebrating the wondrously steep growth curve, I'd be worrying if it was steep enough. If I had been fearing cannibalization, I'd be worried about a new set of cannibals.

Wondering who might be benefiting from ebook sales not counted by AAP? JA Konrath is here to point you in an informative direction:

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2010/10/you-arent-ja-konrath.html

Basically, a whole lot of people who are happy to supply a want, need, desire, whatever, that Real Publishers apparently aren't able to satisfy. (<- There's a NSFW joke buried in there, somewhere.)

broken condoms

I was watching Countdown and heard a teaser about the Assange case. Then I went looking around:

http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2010/12/crayfish_parties_and_broken_co.html

I refuse to go looking for further commentary on this (altho if you find anyone who has more detailed and hopefully more accurate factual information, I might be willing to read it). Reading Naomi Wolf creeps me out ordinarily; I sure don't want to read what she might have to say about it.

I have to say that I have a _lot_ of respect for a society that takes seriously a woman who says she was fine with the sex, as long as a condom was involved, but not if a condom broke and wasn't replaced, or wasn't used, or if she woke up to realize unprotected sex was in progress. (Also, a man who says similar things.) A _lot_ of respect. This is a direction we should be headed as a society, and at least some sex-positive communities get this really right as well, using social sanctions against people who don't behave well in this respect. Further, I _love_ the idea that this all happened because someone wanted to know STD status, and this was a way to get at this information.

If you really believe that your right to move your fist ends when it hits someone else's nose, it seems like any individual's right to medical privacy ends after the condom breaks. Doesn't it?

normally I like Olbermann and Maddow

But apparently, someone gave them each a shot of Teh Crazy and they are acting like, I don't know what they are acting like, but it isn't reality based.

Here's a summary of the tax deal that I think might be somewhat accurate:

http://www.walletpop.com/blog/2010/12/07/the-deal-on-tax-cuts-what-it-means-for-you/

It isn't _just_ unemployment for 13 months and tax breaks for everyone + extra tax breaks on estate and upper brackets. There's other stuff in there too, not just things the Republicans wanted, either. The annual AMT adjustment is included. Looks like the Making Work Pay thing didn't get extended, which is a little sad.

But wait! This is an even better source:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/12/an_imperfect_but_not-that-bad.html

Looks like not getting Making Work Pay is just fine: instead there's a reduction in the amount of payroll taxes paid by employees (working out to more money in worker pockets and thus more money circulating in the economy, generating more demand and more jobs).

Klein is not an overly optimistic person in Washington, and he tends to be fairly accurate in
his reporting. Anyone out there looking for bipartisanship in Washington ought to be feeling pretty happy, and in general, I think a lot of us should be breathing a huge sigh of relief. For many people in the US, this could have been much, much worse.

ETA:

This is also excellent:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/12/how_the_white_house_cut_the_de.html

I find myself in an odd position. I really wanted Clinton to win the primary (and obviously the general), altho obviously I voted for Obama in the general. Part of my rationale was that I didn't really think Obama would fight, and I didn't think he'd recognize just how hard it was going to be to deal with Republicans in Washington. I figured him for a deal maker, and a centrist, and I expected him to get completely screwed. In practice, he's been unbelievably adept at getting stuff accomplished, and while his positioning in public is consistently centrist, the actual legislation and programs happening are far better for my set of ideals than I would have anticipated. Simultaneously, a lot of people that I perceived as wrong in how they understood Obama during the campaign have become really disillusioned with him as President. I thought they were expecting too much (and I think I was right about that still) -- but they also got way more than I expected them to.

I think that anyone who is particularly concerned about how the base feels about a President immediately _after_ a midterm election is sort of missing the point about how the political cycle in this country works, especially when run through any kind of reasonable filter for high-information/low-information voting patterns. It'll be interesting to watch us run through this tax debate again in the context of a presidential election. That's a fight that everyone seems to really want to have, at a time that everyone wants to have it. Could be fun. :-)